It’s been a weird year to say the least. Sometimes I look back just a few months and marvel at how much my life has changed and how with those changes, my outlook on myself has also shifted.
On one hand, I am proud of the strides I have made mentally toward putting myself first, building confidence, and not fully relying on the approval of others to feel happy or whole! Those are all huge steps for me as someone who is deeply afraid of disappointing people and eager to please. I work hard every day to not let my anxiety get the best of me and stop me from living life the way I want to. I feel more independent and sure of myself than I have in a long time. I don’t take feeling happy for granted because I am hyper aware of how often in this past year I have felt quite the opposite.
Yet, I can’t help but feel dissatisfied with the reality of my day to day. Is this adulthood? Is working really living for the weekends to make it through? Is work supposed to be miserable? Am I being too picky or is it valid to want more than this? All these questions rattle around in my brain and my feelings of restlessness about my future persist.
In 2020 to 2021, I have: graduated, adjusted as best I can to living through a global pandemic, gotten a full time salaried job, moved out of my college apartment to a house in a different part of DC, begun fully supporting myself, formed new friendships, and experienced some of the most trying moments of my life. Despite feeling like this year has been more stagnant and sad than I wanted it to be, I know I have accomplished a lot and I feel lucky.
I had hoped moving to another part of DC may help me feel content again. It has definitely helped having a new area to explore, but I am increasingly getting the sense that I may not want to stay much longer in DC. I love this city and it’s full of fond memories and friends, but I don’t know that I want to settle here. It has been over 4 years and I am starting to want a more dramatic change of scenery. For someone with anxiety, I have a strong itch for adventure and newness.
Now is as good a time as any to consider moving, to take risks, to really think about what I want, to explore possibilities and even fail while trying them out. I have a lot of unknowns. I don’t know what I want to do for my next career move, I don’t know where I physically want to live, but oddly this hasn’t been scaring me as much as it normally would. Instead, the options feel freeing and exciting.
I’m young and better yet, I am not stuck. I am learning more and more that changing your life can be as simple as deciding you want to. And very few things are irreversible.
Too often, young adults feel a pressure to know what they are doing at all times. To appear together and to have a plan. As valuable as that can be, flexibility is also an asset and not having everything figured out doesn’t have to be a bad thing.
I used to feel shame for not knowing. Sometimes I still do. It made me think I was a bad adult. However the older I get, the more I realize how much time I have, how young I am, and how no one has it figured out. We are all just making things up as we go along and that’s kind of beautiful.
I may never feel equipped to be an adult. I may always feel like I’m fumbling and faltering or falling apart. Maybe that’s just what living is
Lately, all I can do is tell myself that there is no one right way, there is no perfect life, and that my value extends beyond my career, my social life, or anything material at all.
All of this is to say, being lost or unsure means that you are thinking. Figuring yourself out isn’t easy, so when I feel that uncertainty, I’ve been leaning into it and allowing myself to explore and sit with that emotion. Maybe then I can start to move toward contentment.